GINGRICH'S OVATIONS ARE YOUR NEW INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULBS, OR BREAKFAST FETUSES
I'm reading this now, and it reminds me of a few other things I've read in recently:
Newt Gingrich says he won't "allow" the moderators of future GOP presidential debates to keep the crowd out of it.
Speaking on Tuesday to Fox News, Gingrich took the opportunity that was denied him at Monday night's debate, and blasted the media....
"We're going to serve notice on future debates that we won't tolerate -- we're just not going to allow that to happen," Gingrich continued. "That's wrong -- the media doesn't control free speech. People ought to be able to applaud if they want to. It was almost silly." ...
I read this a few hours after I spotted an Amanda Marcotte post in which she tried to figure out why the hell right-wingers are so obsessed with blocking the changeover to non-incandescent lightbulbs. (Her best answers, in my opinion: "Pettiness" and "It pisses off the liberals.") And yesterday there was this rather astute David Frum essay, in which he reminded us what Newt Gingrich thought would be the keys to Republican victory in the 2004 presidential election (with poll numbers to back him up!):
"1. A work requirement for welfare: 87% of Americans say yes, 5% no. John Kerry and the Senate Democrats have blocked the bill for three years.
2. Government should help faith-based initiatives help the poor: 72% of Americans agree, 26% disagree; Kerry is with the 26%.
3. U.S. interests are more important than international organizations: 73-24; Kerry's positions favor the 24%.
4. Violent attackers of pregnant women who kill the baby should be prosecuted for killing the baby: 84% of Americans say yes, 9% no. Kerry voted no.
5. Children should be allowed to pray at school: 78% of Americans agree; Kerry is against it."
As Frum says:
Looking back on that Gingrich platform from the perspective of eight years later, it's striking how utterly irrelevant those five highlighted points were to the largest problems of the time.
... to Gingrich, such substantive issues were not the stuff of campaign politics. Campaign politics was about finding ways to define your opponent as alien, hostile and dangerous. The definition need not correspond to any actual real-world problem.
But a focus on relatively insignificant, tangential wedge issues is mainstream Republicanism in the Limbaugh/Fox era. It's how you keep the base pumped up and voting. Moreover, Fox and talk radio have made right-wing voters think of culture war as entertainment. So issues like these are bread and circuses for the wingnut rabble -- and while the phrase "bread and circuses" usually refers to non-political distractions, please note that the righty rabble prefers political distractions, of the trivial, tangential variety.
The right-wing base just wants reasons to get angry at liberals, and wants to imagine (or achieve) victories over liberals; victories of any size will suffice. If victory can't be achieved, a heightened sense of grievance is immensely satisfying to these folks.
Gingrich never tires of looking for such wedge issues -- oh, sure, Michele Bachmann beat him to the lightbulb issue, but look how many such issues he came up with in '04. And now her's trying to turn debate rules into another such issue.
And hey, you can't blame Gingrich for persisting in this approach, because a belief in its appropriateness is widespread on the right. Consider this guy:
...An Oklahoma lawmaker files a bill to ban the making and selling of food or products that use aborted human fetuses.
State Senator Ralph Shortey says he's done research and found reports that companies have used stem cells in the research and development of food.
“I don’t know if it is happening in Oklahoma, it may be, it may not be. What I am saying is that if it does happen then we are not going to allow it to manufacture here," says Shortey
The lawmaker that represents Oklahoma County couldn’t give any specific examples.
“There is a potential that there are companies that are using aborted human babies in their research and development of basically enhancing flavor for artificial flavors," says Shortey....
I wonder if Newt wishes he'd gotten to this issue first.
(Oklahoma story via KagroX.)